Bodies and Structures 2.0: Deep-Mapping Modern East Asian HistoryMain MenuGet to Know the SiteGuided TourShow Me HowA click-by-click guide to using this siteModulesRead the seventeen spatial stories that make up Bodies and Structures 2.0Tag MapExplore conceptsComplete Grid VisualizationDiscover connectionsGeotagged MapFind materials by geographic locationLensesCreate your own visualizationsWhat We LearnedLearn how multivocal spatial history changed how we approach our researchAboutFind information about contributors and advisory board members, citing this site, image permissions and licensing, and site documentationTroubleshootingA guide to known issuesAcknowledgmentsThank youDavid Ambaras1337d6b66b25164b57abc529e56445d238145277Kate McDonald306bb1134bc892ab2ada669bed7aecb100ef7d5fThis project was made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Dianshizhai Print Shop
12019-11-18T15:49:55-05:00Kate McDonald306bb1134bc892ab2ada669bed7aecb100ef7d5f3518Image of Dianshizhai Lithographic Processplain2021-07-26T18:20:52-04:00Shanghai31.2222, 121.45811884Wu Youru, Shenjiang shengjing tu 申江勝景圖. Beijing : Quanguo tushuguan wenxian suowei fuzhi zhongxin, 2005 V.1, p. 56-57.Public DomainNathaniel IsaacsonNI-0001Printed MaterialKate McDonald306bb1134bc892ab2ada669bed7aecb100ef7d5f
12019-11-18T15:49:55-05:00Background: About Dianshizhai43The Most Popular Pictorial From Semi-Colonial Shanghaiplain2021-09-29T16:08:42-04:0031.2222, 121.4581Shanghai1884-1898Wu Youru 吳友如. Dianshizhai huabao 點石齋畫報 (Wenchunguan comp., 問淳館主人署) 4 volumes.Wu Youru 吳友如 (Zunyange zhuren 尊聞閣主人, ed.). 申江勝景圖 Shenjiang shengjing tu. Beijing : Quan guo tu shu guan wen xian suo wei fu zhi zhong xin, 2005．Nathaniel IsaacsonDianshizhai huabaoShenbaoWusong Railway
Dianshizhai huabao was a supplement to the Shanghai newspaper Shenbao, appearing every ten days between 1884 and 1898. The bricolage of lithographic images therein were a product of colonial modernity, offering a window novel events and technologies, real and imagined, at home and abroad. The Dianshizhai press, and the larger Shenbao press that it was part of were owned by the British entrepreneurs Ernest and Frederick Major. It differed from other gazeteers in that it was a mass-produced publication meant for a popular audience. The foreign-owned, native-Chinese staffed serial publication was made possible by the new technologies and cultural encounters of the late 19th century in port cities like Shanghai. As products of colonial modernity, these images offered a window on world events, both real and imagined.
In its fourteen-year print run, Dianshizhai huabao featured more than 4,500 images of all aspects of life, foreign and domestic. The main requirement for inclusion was that these events were spectacular—that they were worthy of an audience. They did not have to be real. A small, but conspicuous portion of the lithographic images in Dianshizhai huabao turned their attention to contemporary technological advances like hot-air balloons, airplanes, and steamships, through which they speculated on the position of technology in society, and the differences between China and the West. Less than a dozen images in the pictorial featured trains, but they represent an early glimpse of the reception of a technology that has become one of the key markers of China's contemporary development.
Funded by British entrepreneurs in a semi-colonial city, the pictorial was a hybrid product of colonial modernity, presenting readers with a sensorium of news items both domestic and foreign. Various presentational and representational techniques—Chinese and western perspectives, woodblock printing, landscape and ink painting, and other “traditional” representational modes were melded with photorealism, and occasional reprints of images from American magazines like Harper’s Weekly and the Illustrated London News. These images were accompanied by extended prose commentary, both contextualized and moralized about the events and wonders they depicted. Accompanying text often closely resembled or borrowed directly from pre-existing literati forms like biji and youji: collections of interesting trivia, tidbits, and observations of the world at large alongside personal commentary situated at the margins of official history or accurate reportage.
These images were accompanied by extended prose commentary which both contextualized and moralized about the events and wonders they depicted. Accompanying text often closely resembled or borrowed directly from literati biji and youji—literati journals, travelogues, and other unofficial histories comprised of collections of interesting trivia, tidbits, and observations of the world at large alongside personal commentary situated at the margins of official history or accurate reportage. The lithographic press was a medium uniquely suited for this type of message: movable type in the late 1880s could not produce characters that publishers deemed significantly aesthetically pleasing. Lithographic stones were affordable, reusable, and could reproduce the calligraphy of artisans writing directly on the stone's surface (Reed, Gutenberg in Shanghai, 88-127).
Whereas other online modules like the MIT Visualizing Cultures site examine Dianshizhai huabao as a whole, and Christopher Reed's Gutenberg in Shanghai: Chinese Print Capitalism, 1876-1937 (2004) presents a comprehensive history of the role of print culture in Chinese modernization, this module might be seen as a curated exhibition on a specific topic covered by the pictorial. In this module, I argue first that depictions of trains in the pictorial are symptomatic of a trans-national flow of information, by which news in one context would become fiction in another. Second, the visual style of the media clearly demarcates “western” and “modern” objects and spaces from purportedly native ones. Chinese and western objects and individuals are immediately differentiated through contrasting visual styles. Finally, depictions of trains in the pictorial also portray trains as part and parcel of the knowledge industry: a new mode of seeing and understanding the world, as well as being a new medium through which the world was put on display and rendered understandable.